WA Ballet ready for Mr B

DANCERS at WA Ballet currently have one degree of separation between them and the great choreographer George Balanchine, with George Balanchine Trust repetiteur Diana White in the rehearsal room.

Having the former New York City ballet dancer teach Balanchine�s original choreography has been an incredible experience for soloist Sarah Hepburn who will dance a principal role in the company�s May season of Embraceable You.

The milestone marks the first time a full program celebrating the �father of American ballet� will be presented in Perth and by WA Ballet, due to the Trust�s strict regulations on a company�s aptitude to dance the works.

�Diana has all these amazing stories to tell us about working with Mr B,� Hepburn said.

�When she says �well, when we did it, we danced it like this� you realise, �oh yeah, she was there when he choreographed it�.

�She has brought all the original DVDs from those first people it was choreographed on, the first people who danced it, and she�s getting us to learn it from them. She doesn�t want to take that liberty to how he might have changed it, so she wants to set it to the original.�

Hepburn said Balanchine�s style had never dated but could imagine how it might have been considered radical when he first choreographed it.

�The choreography he sets women is beautiful,� she said.

�There is no step that�s awkward and what he gave them is amazing to dance. For us to be able to do it is incredible.�

The program consists of four ballets, Ballanchine�s Concerto Barocco, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux and Who Cares? (danced to the music of Gershwin) plus WA Ballet principal dancer and choreographer Jayne Smeulder�s Tarantella, which opened last year�s Genesis program.

�I was in it then and it was originally performed with one couple, making it very strenuous,� Hepburn said.

�As soon as we finished it we were pretty much wrecked for the night because it was eight and a half minutes of pure go, go, go.

�This time we�ve brought it back with two couples dancing it, sort of tag-teaming our way through the tricks, so it�s much more manageable to do.

�Jayne says that she sees Balanchine as always being a big inspiration for her when she choreographs, she thinks �what would Balanchine have done?� It�s not his style, but she thinks about him when she choreographs.�

THE ESSENTIALS

What: Embraceable You

Where: His Majesty�s Theatre

When: May 15 to 30

Tickets: www.ticketek.com.au